Most bridal shows take place from winter to early spring. This time of year goes hand in hand with engagement season and it’s also a slower time of year for wedding vendors. Becoming a bridal show vendor is a major commitment and one you don’t want to do half-heartedly.
It’s a serious investment on many different levels. From the cost of the show, to marketing materials, production costs, to lead follow-up—there’s a lot! Regardless, bridal shows can be a lucrative investment. One booking could pay for itself. As another bonus, you get to be front and center to many brides all at one time. However, before you go investing in this opportunity, let’s see if you’re truly ready to be a vendor at a bridal show.
Have you done your research?
Not all bridal shows are created equal. You need to do your research and ask questions before committing to a show. First things first, you want to know how long the show has been going on. As you can probably guess, the more established a bridal show, the better the turnout will be. The next question you want to ask is how many attendees they are expecting. Obviously, the more, the better. How long is the event? How long do you have to set up and break down? Most shows will let you set up the night before.
And lastly, you want to know how they have marketed the event. This is a critical question. Did they use billboards, email marketing, or social media? Remember that everything is negotiable and if something sounds off, you can always ask for a lower price. Also, sometimes shows will let you share a space with another vendor, so be sure to ask about that too.
Are you prepared?
Just because you have a wedding planner company doesn’t necessarily mean you are ready to do a bridal show. There’s a lot of prep work involved that goes beyond what’s needed for the show itself. Is your website up to date and awe-inspiring? Do you have sales skills to book brides? Do you have a good vendor network in place? Are your recent testimonials proof of your amazing skill? Have you been posting regularly on social media?
It won’t do you any good to attend a bridal show and meet lots of brides only to have them go home, look you up, and be turned off by your online presence. If you want your investment to work for you, you need to get these items squared away first. Once they are good to go, you can start preparing for shows.
Do You Have Show Items?
Next, you want to make sure you have your show items ready. This means you have a planned layout in mind, marketing materials, and a door prize. You may only have a moment to make a lasting impression, so how are you going to stand out? You might want to consider hiring an assistant to pass out cards or to get brides to leave their contact info on your signup form.
Are you ready to follow up?
Attending a show is just the start. You need to have a plan for the follow-up. I highly recommend using email marketing for this. The bridal show company will send over an email list of all the brides who signed up and attended the show. Cold calling is no longer an effective way to market, so try to avoid going this direction if at all possible. If email marketing is a new concept for you, I recommend starting out with a Mailchimp account.
It’s totally free to use if you have under 2,000 subscribers. You will want to work on an email sequence that will get their attention and keep them engaged. Perhaps think of a few freebie PDFs you could send to help couples with their wedding planning. Remember, don’t give away the farm. Go ahead and give them the who, what, where, and when, but reserve the how for your expertise.
Bridals shows are a big investment and it’s important you are prepared to make the most of it if you decided to attend one. The very first bridal show I attended was a complete flop for me. Of course, I blamed the show, but looking back, I see now that I wasn’t really ready to participate in one. At the time I had only done one wedding, and my website was lacking a lot of the necessary factors I mentioned in this post. You will have to decide for yourself whether or not you’re ready, because let’s be real, no bridal show salesman will say you’re not ready. Give it some thought, and if you’re not ready yet, don’t be discouraged. Instead, spend that money on updating your website or treating some vendors to coffee. You’ll be ready for the next bridal show!